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Grier Says “Smoothest” First Day of Classes

— San Diego city schools opened their doors yesterday to thousands of students on the first day of the new school year. KPBS Reporter Ana Tintocalis says district officials didn't hear of any major problems.

Roughly 130,000 students strapped on their backpacks and headed back to school.

It's been a tough summer for San Diego Unified. The district was hit hard by the state's money problems. And school superintendent Terry Grier expects the Houston school district to formally offer him its top job this week. Grier says he'll take the job if all the contract issues can be resolved.

Despite that, Grier says it was the smoothest first day of classes he's experienced.

"Our schools were absolutely sparkling clean," Grier said. "Our buses, we had a little hitch in time because of traffic, but as far as I know, we didn't lose a student today. It was really a fantastic opening of school."

And many high school students say lunchtime was fantastic thanks to a new and improved lunch menu. The change is part of a district-wide effort to make more money by getting more students to buy school lunches.

The school board's student representative, Aaron Baranco at Patrick Henry High School, says classes were not the highlight of his day, it was the food.

"Everyone liked it and went up for more. Today was a really exciting day at lunch," Baranco said.

But there were some downsides. Many veteran teachers are no longer in the district. More than 1,000 took an early retirement offer to save the district money.

In addition to that, San Diego Unified failed to have every high school class satisfy University of California standards. Those standards mean classes meet rigorous guidelines that prepare kids for college. The district's Chuck Morris says too many high school classes were added this year that didn't meet those standards.

"It has just gotten totally out of hand," Morris said.

The school board voted to eliminate one of the classes that didn’t qualify even though students are already enrolled. The remaining classes will be reviewed and might also be dropped at the end of the semester.

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